I saw an article over on another simulated racing website about the ‘sharp decline’ in iRacing dirt’s popularity. The article is misleading. The fact is, the decline really hasn’t been that sharp. Any new content is going to spike on introduction then fall off pretty quickly within the first month. iRacing’s dirt content is no exception.
The Dirt Super Late Model always had low numbers right from the start. The 410 Sprint Cars weren’t much higher. But every other dirt racing series has had pretty good numbers and they haven’t fallen any more than one would expect.
Instead of quoting some obscure post from some nobody on a garbage forum, let’s take a look at actual statistics. Week one’s numbers were a bit more inflated because iRacing Dirt was brand new, so let’s use week two and week six for examples of participation numbers.
DIRTcar 305 Sprint Car Series
- Week two – 2941 participants.
- Week six – 1708 participants.
That’s a pretty big decline, but the point is, it’s still one of the highest participation rates on all of iRacing.
DIRTcar 360 Sprint Car Series
- Week two – 1941 participants.
- Week six – 1187 participants.
Participation in this car actually increased in week two. Week one only had 1767 participants. Williams Grove is not a popular track in any car. Somehow I love the place. But the point is, 1187 participants is a lot. Numbers like that are the envy of every iRacing series.
DIRTcar Pro Late Models
- Week two – 774 participants.
- Week six – 444 participants.
That one could be called a sharp decline, but this series performs well overall and probably gets frequent splits.
DIRTcar Street Stock Series
- Week two – 2453 participants.
- Week six – 1530 participants.
No surprises. Despite the article’s claims of massive decline, this series still has higher 2017 Season 2 average participation than any other series on iRacing.
World of Outlaws Late Model Series
- Week two – 338 participants.
- Week six – 195 participants.
It started low and got lower. No surprises here. You’re still seeing plenty of cars to race, but few splits.
World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series
- Week two – 665 participants.
- Week six – 429 participants.
I wouldn’t call that a sharp decline, and you still have plenty of cars racing. You should see some splits in this series.
To proclaim that participation has fallen sharply is misleading at best. Participation has fallen as was expected, but iRacing Dirt participation is still very high. Road and asphalt oval series racers would love to see anything approaching some of these dirt participation numbers.
The article goes on to proclaim that ‘The sim community by and large simply do [sic] not understand car setups enough to get the most out of their virtual sprint car or late model.’ That’s probably true, but the default Sprint Car setups are fine. Drain some fuel and you’re good. Anybody who has ever used a racing simulation can handle that. The Late Model setups require a little more tuning and may be daunting to some people, but you try different things and look at other setups you might find, and at some point you get it, and a good setup can be a pretty big help on dirt, but it’s still not a silver bullet. Maybe testing and tuning and interfacing with others who do the same is too much for some people to handle, but it really requires little to no understanding of car setups. It’s more of a matter of priorities. How much time and effort are you willing to put into your simulated racing?
The fact is, setups are almost meaningless on the Sprint cars. These are some of the simplest setups on iRacing. I would almost compare them to the Legends Car, but I’d say they’re a little closer to the Street Stocks. There just isn’t that much to change. The majority of the drivers reading this will probably say the cars are setup dependent and maybe two will say the setups mean very little. Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect. I’ve seen a pro driver on the iRacing default Sprint Car setup hot lap 2 seconds faster than anybody else could on any setup. It’s not the setup, it’s the driver. A guy who is at least half a second faster than I am gave me his setup. I actually got slower. I didn’t like his setup.
It really gets old when you keep hearing guys cry about ‘getting beat by a setup.’ It just doesn’t happen in most cases. You got beat by the driver on dirt. Some drivers have talent. Some drivers practice a lot. Dedicated winners have talent and they practice a lot. In the Late Models, a better setup can get you some better lap times, but you still have to know the good line and you have to be able to run it consistently. A good driver who knows the line can get you a couple of tenths of a second or a lot more.
Talented drivers can find the fastest line around the track. They can find it quickly and they can practice it and stick to that line consistently lap after lap. Don’t cry about your setup when Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Larson almost lap you at Williams Grove. You need to wake up and smell the Taster’s Choice. You’re just not that damn good.
The article goes on with this: ‘You would think that the dirt content would bring a whole host of new users to the iRacing service, especially with talk of how accurate these cars are compared to the rest of the vehicles on iRacing, but there’s a fundamental flaw with this hypothesis.’ In the author’s opinion there is a fundamental flaw with that hypothesis. But his opinion is wrong. What he calls a hypothesis is a fact. There has been a glut of new racers on iRacing, just to race on dirt. I’ve heard so many people say, ‘I just signed up for dirt.’ iRacing Dirt has killed rFactor Dirt as well as the small group that was racing Dirt Track Racing 2. They all abandoned those outdated games/sims to flock to iRacing. I have never seen so many new members on iRacing in my four years there. I have dozens of rookies applying for my dirt leagues every week. When I look at their profiles, they aren’t running any asphalt. They’re new and they’re here for dirt.
The article makes one or two good points, but on the whole it’s mostly misleading and irresponsible. It’s typical shallow journalism, aka ‘Fake News.’ The author admitted a couple of months ago that he wasn’t renewing his iRacing subscription. When he was an active member he didn’t even run ovals. He has no clue what’s going on with iRacing dirt. I’ve been running iRacing short ovals for four years. As soon as dirt was released I was on the test server driving a Dirt Street Stock at Eldora while the update was taking place. Participation has fallen some, but iRacing Dirt still has the highest participation numbers on iRacing.